The Burgess Shale by Margaret Atwood

This tiny, 60-page volume looks like a book but is actually a lecture given in June of last year by Margaret Atwood at the University of Alberta. I’d never heard of the Kreisel Lecture Series before, but I got lost in the 800s section at my local library and barely made it out alive. And now here we are – knee-deep in the history of CanLit. Which is pretty unsurprising, for me.

I’m about a third of the way through this one so far, and I have a couple of observations. Margaret Atwood is such a clever and snarky looking 20-something, and the vintage photos of her are amazing; this tiny volume is an interesting companion piece to Nick Mount’s (more rounded and better researched and less idealized) history of the same boom in CanLit. 

And it’s always strange to read something that was meant to be listened to; I enjoy reading conversational non-fiction (see Nick Mount, above) but this lecture is almost too conversational for my taste. This, of course, is not necessarily helped by the fact that I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary Atwood. Her older stuff is intense and sharp, but anything newer than Oryx and Crake (with the exception of Hag-Seed, which, if not as sharp as her older stuff, was at least entertaining ) has fallen pretty flat for me.

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